The recent demise and subsequent resurrection of the Navy’s rating system has brought considerable attention to a side of the Navy that is unique among the armed services (shared only by the Coast Guard), somewhat mysterious to outsiders, and a byproduct of the evolution of technology.
All the services rely on a hierarchical rank system that is used to determine levels of authority and responsibility and provides a common pay scale. Most people understand the concept of military “rank.”
While the Navy and Coast Guard embrace the concept of rank, they do not share the same nomenclature with the other services. For example, a major in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps equates to a lieutenant commander in the Navy or Coast Guard; sergeants in the other services are petty officers in the iconoclastic seagoing services; and all the services use the titles of captain and lieutenant but in very different ways.